How to Get the Best Price for Your Car

Friday, 31 March 2017

If you’ve decided to sell your car, it’s humbling to learn that the UK’s most well-known online new and used car advertising marketplace attracts roughly 60 million visitors each month. The most popular auction site has in excess of 210,000 cars listed by dealers and private sellers. What steps can be taken to give your car the best possible chance in standing out and attracting worthwhile enquiries?


Very few prospective buyers are willing to look beyond a car’s filthy exterior. To increase the chances of selling it for a strong price, give it at least a basic clean outside and inside before photographing it for advertisements and letting people come to view it. A clean car gives the impression that its owner cares about it, whereas a dirty car could indicate that maintenance has been neglected and it might have been abused. Likewise, getting scratches, dents and other cosmetic blemishes rectified will give possible buyers more confidence.

Maintenance and MoTs

The majority of car buyers will ignore cars that haven’t been serviced regularly in accord Carwith manufacturers’ stipulations. They’ll also pass on cars that haven’t had necessary repairs and recalls carried out, and that either have very little MoT remaining or perhaps require a fresh MoT pass certificate in order to be driven away. Preparing a folder containing as much car-related documentation as you can find such as garage receipts and MoT print-outs will help you achieve a higher price. Road tax is no longer a bargaining tool, though, because nowadays any remaining tax is not transferred and the new buyer will have to arrange for fresh tax to be put on the car.

Original specification

If you or a previous owner is responsible for a car being significantly modified such as with a spoiler, bodykit, tinted windows, a respray, an aftermarket entertainment system or different alloy wheels, for example, this could put some buyers off. It’s always advisable to restore the car to its original specification before selling it.

Seasonal timing

Spring and autumn are commonly found to be the optimum times to sell a used car, with March a particularly good moment thanks to it being one of two occasions each year when new registration plates are released. Lighter, sunnier weather encourages more car buyers to become active, perhaps travelling further for nicer car. Spring is also inevitably a time when prices for used convertibles/cabriolets start to rise.

Private buyers are more likely to buy used cars just before and after registration plates change than dealers, with August a particularly bad time to try and part exchange with a trader. Christmas is also a bad time to sell a car, as people are focussed on festive spending and family time rather than a new set of wheels. People selling 4x4s should ideally advertise them from September until November to tie in with the approach of winter.

Politics and sporting events

It may sound a little strange but major focusses like the Brexit Referendum and World Cup can distract would-be car buyers. It’s recommended to wait until such events are over if it’s not possible to market your car well beforehand.


Reliability surveys often find that cars become more unreliable when they reach five years of age or achieve 60,000 miles, making this an angle to consider when contemplating selling your car or trading it in. Of course, the classic car market works in quite the opposite way, though, with older cars in immaculate condition commanding higher prices. It all depends on what car you’re selling.


It’s important that your car has some transferable manufacturers warranty remaining on it, especially when selling a car privately rather than part exchanging it. Dealers will often have their own third party warranty arrangements in place to offer customers. Prospective buyers will feel more confident knowing that they’ll be able to take the car to a main dealer to be repaired under warranty if any problems arise after buying it from you, even if it’s just for the following six months or so. Check your warranty documentation before mentioning it in adverts and to potential buyers as not all warranties are transferrable, such as Vauxhall’s Lifetime Warranty which only covers the vehicle’s first owner.

The market

Rental companies and fleets often buy new models in large volumes and sell them just over a year later. If you bought a brand new car around a year ago and now want to sell it for whatever reason, be mindful that the used market may become flooded with examples. If the model of your car has been around for a few or several years, this is less of a factor.

Effective adverts

A used car listing devoid of much detail can give the impression that the seller isn’t really interested in the vehicle and hasn’t put much time and effort into preparing it for sale. It’s therefore best to include as much information as possible in the advert, such as service intervals, recalls, whether the mileage has mainly been accrued on motorways, and any accessories that are being sold with the car, such as a roof box or winter tyres. Being candid and frank in adverts can prove attractive to prospective purchasers.

Think about where you will photograph the car and what price you realistically want to achieve, knowing that most buyers will try to negotiate at least something off the asking price. Additionally, it’s beneficial to put thought into where you intend to advertise your used car for sale, such as Auto Trader, eBay, Gumtree, or even in a local shop window.

A friendly manner

When people come to look at the car you’re selling, be welcoming, show an interest in them and their needs, demonstrate how the car might suit their requirements, and be open and honest. A genuine, warm demeanour will inspire more confidence and make potential buyers feel at ease rather than like their presence is unwelcome. Answer any telephone or online queries about your car promptly otherwise would-be buyers might be put off.

While it’s clear that a bewildering array of cars are for sale across the UK at any one time, it’s also evident that by heeding advice and tips such as these, it’s possible to make your car more attractive to the right buyers, boosting your chances of getting the best feasible price for it.



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